All Whites whitewash?


 “This is nothing personal against football. I followed the All Whites campaign like many others and was rapt with how they went…”  Dick Tayler-former Halberg Awards judge

During the staging of the Paralympic Games in Christchurch a few weeks ago I met the coach of the Swiss team, Roli Giger.  He was delighted to be at QEII Stadium, the venue for the marvellouis 1974 Commonwealth Games, though in terms of spirit, courage and grit the 2011 IPC Games lost nothing by comparison.*

His interest in athletics had been sparked when, as a young boy, he saw Snell and Halberg win gold medals within half an hour at the 1960 Rome Olympics*.

He would probably agree with 1974  Commonwealth Games gold medallist DickTayler’s decision to quit as a Halberg Awards judge in protest at the All Whites winning the top prize.

As Tayler said: “We have a tradition in New Zealand sport and have shown that over many years in many sports, like athletics, golf and motor racing, being able to produce world champions… … The All Whites are ranked in the mid-60s in the world and played up to that.”*

Tayler said he equated the awards with sporting excellence and the proud history that New Zealand had for winning on the world stage. The All Whites did not win a game at the World Cup but their three draws included one against then world champions Italy.

He’s got a point.  At the top level sport, like life, ought to be all about having a go at winning, not playing it safe and avoiding losing. Like Tayler I also admired the efforts of the All Whites, but thought perhaps they played it too safe in the last game of Round 2. If the All Whites make it to the next FWC,  perhaps they’ll play 11 goalkeepers and hermetically seal the goal.

The Halberg Awards have been about results and not effort. As others have pointed out, perhaps we also need a new award-maybe the Honest Triers award. (As the Last Straggler Home in the 2006 Molesworth Muster- on the only non-mountain bike-I’m  all for that).

But as Tayler points out, if he’d finished fourth at the 10,000m in the1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games,  he would not have been deserving of the Halberg award. As it was, the outsider, in every one’s estimation except that of Tayler and his coach Arthur Lydiard, earlier the coach of Snell and Halberg, pulled off a staggering victory as the video highlights below show.*

This unexpected Kiwi win on day one of the Games gave substance to the words of the ‘74 Games Song:  “Join together….Sports unite us all as one.”

It’s ironic that DickTayler’s refreshing honesty has split the sporting public 37 years later.

*BLINKS  Commentary  Snd  1974 Commonwealth Games Highlights-including Dick Tayler winning Gold   Vid    2011 IPC  Women’s 400m T53  Vid 

#Lyall Lukey 20 Feb 2011 My other (bit more serious) blog 


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